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In all of my recent travels around the world I have been reminded of how good we all have life here in Nebraska. One of the main reasons why we enjoy the quality of life we have here is because we have so many of our fellow citizens willing to serve our Nebraska communities.
I would like to thank all the Nebraskans who give of themselves so the rest of us can take so much for granted. Our law enforcement, fire departments and emergency medical personnel who make dialing 911 something we can rely on. The soldiers and airmen of our National Guard who stand ready to answer the call of the Governor or the President. Our incredible healthcare workers who ride the ambulances and stand on the front line in the emergency room. The citizens who raise their hand and run for elected office on the city council or the county commissioners or the school board. The unpaid volunteers who staff rural fire departments or volunteer at their local school or church. The many veteran groups and organizations like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars who give so much back to their communities. Civic organizations like the Eagles Club or Rotary Club or Shriners who support so many charitable causes. Even the neighbor who looks in on the elderly person who lives alone next door. The Dad that agrees to be the Cub Scout pack leader, or the parent who agrees to help chaperon the 4th Grade Class that visits our very unique and beautiful Capitol building every Spring.
These amazing citizens are the foundation of life in Nebraska. They are the stitches that hold our coat of many colors together. They make living in Nebraska and the United States the special thing that it is.
I’ve no doubt I left people off this list. It’s not intentional. The list of people and groups that make Nebraska and America great is very long. The willingness of ordinary people to volunteer and give back to their communities is a singularly unique aspect of American life. You just don’t see this degree of civic involvement in other countries. A lot of people in other countries are not as free as we are. They look to the government to improve their lives. Americans look to themselves. The people know our government does not make America great. Our people do. Working for them has been the greatest honor of my life.
In the coming session in January, I will strongly supporting bills that will make “volunteering” easier and less costly. Often times a citizen stepping forward to be on the local volunteer fire department, for example, must complete training and acquire equipment themselves. In small rural departments, all or part of these costs have to be absorbed by the citizen. We need to find a way to incentivize those citizens who want to support their community. We need a lot more of them.